Work in Progress

Change is inevitable, progress is not. We live in a world that is continuously changing, but the real question should be, “are we progressing?” Where you look and your personal perspective, will determine if the answer is yes or no. In reality, progress is everywhere. We have made enormous strides socially, politically, and economically. For example, women’s rights, voting rights, and free trade all exhibit progressive changes. As a society, progress is essential to survival, just as it is in business. It is said that if you are not growing and progressing in in your life, whether professionally or personally, you are dying. As entrepreneurs we move in many directions. We all say we are “busy,” but are we busy for the sake of filling time or are we actually progressing? As open ended as this question may be, we thought we would dive deeper into what progress needs to take shape and how to execute, so that we are no longer just “busy.” We frequently discuss this topic internally on how growth is a byproduct of progress and that working harder is not a substitute for working smarter and more efficient. As with many small businesses we have to remain cognizant of this struggle.

Progress and change is happening at a pace much faster than ever before. With the advancements in technology, the speed of progress has changed exponentially. The agricultural revolution took thousands of years, the industrial revolution took hundreds of years, but the information revolution is only taking decades and that time is becoming shorter every day. The progress that is being made today is going on in areas that once seemed impossible. Industries are changing in what seems to be overnight. The progressive nature of society and business leads entrepreneurs no choice but to be accommodative and embrace change, or risk being left behind.

Progress is defined as to grow or develop, as in complexity, scope, or severity; to advance to a destination or goal. As investors and entrepreneurs, we are regularly defining and redefining our goals and desired business outcomes. So how can we progress if we are constantly changing our goals? The simple answer is to maintain a big picture perspective. The failures and successes in business are often due to perspective. By maintaining the correct perspective, you are providing the opportunity to make the best decisions. By constantly “getting” the big picture, you will always be heading in general direction of success and progress. As with all entrepreneurial endeavors, there will not a be straight path to success. You will have ups and downs, zigs and zags along the way. But keep in mind that no progress is too small to measure.

We work with entrepreneurs every day. Constantly they are looking for the answer to “how can I invoke change within my organization?” First, there has to be a desire. Change is driven by factors within, such as a desire to reposition, implement a new idea, or expand into a new market. Without this fundamental factor, change will not occur and progress will not be made. Second, have a goal. How can you know what you want to achieve or where you want take your company without a goal? You cannot begin without an end in mind. Third, keep track. By tracking the progress, you are accomplishing three things: maintaining momentum, accountability and the ability to change or adapt your actions.

Change is inevitable, progress in not.

These steps can be used in any aspect of life whether cutting down your debt, increasing your savings, opening your own business or living a healthy lifestyle. Fundamentally these three steps are incredibly basic – the challenge is in the execution and learning how to balance all of these different aspects within our daily lives.

Entrepreneurs have to follow through to make progress happen. But, not all is destined to happen even if you follow the steps. Change does not always lead to progress due to the complex nature of organizations and markets. Other factors include the fact that change affects the structure and processes as well as the fact that purely executing is not enough. In addition the complex nature of change frequently makes goals and targets dynamic. You have to constantly look for ways to outthink the competition and go above and beyond. As with anything worthwhile in life, progress is not easy. It is difficult and arduous endeavor. But, as you attain progress, you could also attain efficiency which will lead you away from being “busy” to productive and shorten the long road to success.